Australia's NSW Government In Talks Over Mandatory Cashless Gaming

April 26, 2023
Crossbenchers holding the balance of power in the New South Wales (NSW) state legislature have begun talks with the newly-elected Labor government to introduce mandatory cashless gaming for its $8bn slot machine sector.


Crossbenchers holding the balance of power in the New South Wales (NSW) state legislature have begun talks with the newly-elected Labor government to introduce mandatory cashless gaming for its $8bn slot machine sector.

Alex Greenwich, an independent member of the lower house representing central Sydney, told the Sydney Morning Herald on Wednesday (April 26) that he and other crossbench lawmakers have met with incoming Premier Chris Minns and gaming and racing minister David Harris.

“Labor’s policy has not ruled out cashless gambling, and we will work with them to see this happen in NSW, possibly earlier than what was proposed by the [former government],” he said.

“We’ve already met with the premier to discuss this, and look forward to working closely with Minister Harris on a robust trial that delivers a mandate for this much-needed reform.”

The Labor government fell just short of a majority in the Legislative Assembly, or lower house, during March elections, opening the door for pro-reform crossbench lawmakers to run with the defeated conservative government’s mandatory cashless gaming policy.

Labor secured 45 seats, up seven, while the Liberal-National coalition lost ten seats to 36, amounting to a solid victory for Labor leader Chris Minns.

While anti-gambling Greens candidates maintained their three seats, the number of independents rose from eight to 11, ensuring minority government for Labor.

At least four independents have backed cashless gaming, with the three Greens candidates likely to join them. If the conservative Liberal-National coalition maintains support for reform, the group would only need three of seven remaining crossbench votes to force the government to act should the talks fail.

Cashless gaming reform was a leading policy in defeated Premier Dominic Perrottet’s campaign, while a more cautious Minns opted for a highly limited trial of cashless slots.

But Minns never ruled out the mandatory introduction of cashless gaming technology, and independent and green lawmakers will likely now leverage their balance of power in both the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council — where the government has only 15 of 42 seats — to see Perrottet’s plan through.

Potentially assisting the reformist group is new data from government regulator Liquor & Gaming NSW, which on Monday reported slots net profit of A$2.4bn for clubs and A$1.9bn for hotels in the second half of 2022, easily lifting annual net profit for the state-wide industry to a record A$8.1bn ($5.4bn).

“These record poker machines profits have been achieved at the cost of relationship breakdowns, families losing life savings, and the proceeds of crime being funnelled through venues across NSW,” Greenwich told the Herald.

With his “funnelling” comment, Greenwich was alluding to a NSW Crime Commission report released in October that found billions of dollars are laundered through the state’s slot machines every year.

The commission’s top recommendations included a “mandatory cashless gaming system to minimise EGM [electronic gaming machine] related money laundering within pubs and clubs”, as well as retention of player data, a one-to-one relationship between a player card and bank account, a ban on card transfers, and maximum “daily cash load” of A$1,000.

Then-Premier Perrottet embraced the recommendations, seemingly boosting his flagging support among swing voters and in the media, while Minns irritated crossbench politicians and pro-reform elements among Labor voters by not committing to any of them.

In any case, tremendous pressure has been building on almost every gaming segment in Australia following probes into land-based casinos in most states and accelerating prosecution of corporate bookmakers.

The slots segment, the most lucrative of all, has only recently lost its image of untouchability, with government whistleblowers, ministerial and regulator criticism, media investigations, and the resignation of the industry’s most formidable lobbyist over a religious slur injuring its defences and giving opponents hope for systemic change.

Our premium content is available to users of our services.

To view articles, please Log-in to your account, or sign up today for full access:

Opt in to hear about webinars, events, industry and product news

To find out more about Vixio, contact us today
No items found.